Wildcats Bounce Broncos, 53-48

Dec. 29, 2008

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BOISE, Ida. - Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe tallied career-bests of 26 points and 20 rebounds to lead visiting Arizona to a 53-48 comeback win over Boise State, Monday evening at the Taco Bell Arena on the BSU campus.

One year ago, the two teams met in Tucson with Ibekwe connecting on a game-winning put-back of a missed shot by Ashley Whisonant as time expired for a 62-61 win. Though she did not need any last-second heroics in the return match, she provided another memorable performance to give the Wildcats their first road win of the season.

The Wildcats played perhaps their best 10 minutes of basketball on the road to start the game, building a 21-10 advantage at the 10:23 mark after a pair of free throws by Ibekwe. The Cats moved the ball well on offense while shutting down a solid-shooting Broncos team that has won the past two WAC regular season titles. Ibekwe had 12 points and 11 rebounds before the break to spearhead the effort.

The momentum quickly changed hands, however, as the Broncos won the second half of the opening stanza by a 19-9 count. The Broncos were pesky with their zone defense, forcing nine turnovers while working the ball inside against the Wildcats.

Boise State did its best to make sure the final outcome would be decided much earlier than the final horn. Jamia Malone connected on the first of back-to-back Bronco three-pointers to spark a 12-2 run to start the second half. The Wildcats made just one of their first nine shots while the home side had 10 players score at least a point.

Ibekwe, however, had other ideas as she single-handedly kept the Wildcats in the game. As she continued to add to her rebounding total, Ibekwe also converted a pair of steals into four points to bring Arizona back into the game at 41-38 with 12:38 remaining.

The one-woman show continued as Ibekwe blocked a shot and converted a third steal into 1-of-2 free throws with 7:20 left to tie the game at 43-43. The Wildcats took their first lead since the intermission as Ibekwe drove the right side of the lane after Thomas had missed a jumper from the left elbow. A three-pointer by Ashley Frazier in the left corner completed the 16-2 run for a 48-43 advantage with 5:27 remaining.

All the while, Boise State could do nothing to produce a basket. To fully detail their scoring woes, the Broncos scored just 2 points over a span of 12:12. They started the half hitting 5-of-9 shots, but proceeded to immediately miss 15-of-16 attempts. The Broncos finally ended their scoring drought as Courtney VanBrocklin hit a three-pointer in the right corner to make it 48-46 with 2:56 to play.

Courtney Clements drilled a 18-foot jumper from the wing after the 20th rebound of the game by Ibekwe, but the Broncos answered with a put-back by Janie Bos with 34 seconds to play. Ibekwe was fouled after the inbounds pass and hit the first free throw, but her second attempt missed the mark.

However, Amina Njonkou tapped the ball back out to the perimeter, where Reiko Thomas collected the loose ball and hit a pair of free throws for a 53-48 advantage to give the Cats their fourth-straight victory.

Ibekwe had 12 of her 20 rebounds on the offensive end, a rebound total that was the 2nd-most for a single game in program history. She also recorded her 3rd-straight double-double and 5th in the past 6 games. Reiko Thomas also chipped in 11 points.

VanBrocklin had 9 points to lead Boise State (7-6), the first time in Arizona history that an opponent did not have at least one player score in double figures. Bos and Malone each added 8 points while Bos led the Broncos with 9 rebounds.

Arizona (7-4) returns home to open up Pac-10 play on Friday, January 2 against #13/9-ranked California with tip-off in the McKale Center scheduled for 7 p.m.

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